Friday, September 22, 2017

Book Review: A Beautiful Poison by Lydia Kang

Title: A Beautiful Poison
Source: Lake Union Publishing in exchange for an honest review

Goodreads Summary:

Just beyond the Gilded Age, in the mist-covered streets of New York, the deadly Spanish influenza ripples through the city. But with so many victims in her close circle, young socialite Allene questions if the flu is really to blame. All appear to have been poisoned—and every death was accompanied by a mysterious note.

Desperate for answers and dreading her own engagement to a wealthy gentleman, Allene returns to her passion for scientific discovery and recruits her long-lost friends, Jasper and Birdie, for help. The investigation brings her closer to Jasper, an apprentice medical examiner at Bellevue Hospital who still holds her heart, and offers the delicate Birdie a last-ditch chance to find a safe haven before her fragile health fails.

As more of their friends and family die, alliances shift, lives become entangled, and the three begin to suspect everyone—even each other. As they race to find the culprit, Allene, Birdie, and Jasper must once again trust each other, before one of them becomes the next victim.

My thoughts:

Allene, Jasper, and Birdie - a beautiful trio. Allene, rich, inquisitive with a scientific mind and interest in chemistry; Jasper, once a part of high society, now scraping by with an intense determination to be somebody, once again; and Birdie, with her fairy like beauty and tragic life, whom everyone wants to protect. The book begins with these three old friends reuniting. Once inseparable, circumstances beyond their control kept them apart. Now, five years later, Allene draws them all back together, despite the way that life has changed them over the years. They struggle to fit their new selves into their old roles, and the dynamic has shifted, as one would expect. Their reunion is made more difficult by the bodies that begin dropping around them, almost literally. The solving of a murder, which starts as a lark, a means to satisfy a curiosity, becomes more and more grim as more bodies are added to the death toll.

I have to say, this book kept me guessing all the way to the end. I was hooked on every twist and turn, the setting, characters so vivid I could perfectly imagine this world. I was intrigued by the descriptions of Bellevue Hospital, the framing of science in this era, and forensics itself. The book talks about Bellevue being the first morgue, and how they could not be bought by the political machine of Tammany Hall, but desired to operate for science, purely and honestly. I haven’t checked to see if this a true fact, but I am interested enough to dig deeper on the history of this hospital, which sounds rather checkered! And the radium girls aspect - I am getting ready to start reading The Radium Girls, because this book piqued my interest, and I want to know more! In fact, I just really loved the whole setting for this book. I don't read much set in this time frame, and when I do, it is not usually set in the United States. Lol. I had to keep reminding myself that this book did not take place in London! I also had to keep reminding myself that the main characters were young - like 17-18. They seem a bit older, but I think it is due to the time period.

Overall, I very much enjoyed this book, and had a heck of a time ever setting it down to get anything done. It was unique, and I never stopped trying to figure it out. I am wary of giving anything away, so I will stop here!


  1. This sounds like a good one. I've added it. Thanks for bringing it to my attention. Hope you're having a good day and Wyatt is happy.

    1. Oh, that is good to know about the Mercy Thompson series. I finished the second book; I did get a little tired of the vampires, but there were some factual Easter eggs that I liked. I started book three.

    2. There is a stinker right in the middle of the series - like book 6 maybe? Keep going, they get better after that one for sure. Lol. I like the Mercy books much more now than I did in the beginning. She really found her groove for this character and this world.

  2. This cover is gorgeous! And the premise seems so interesting. I think all the scientific and medical advances around this time period are really interesting, too. But also creepy sometimes, too? Anyway, good review and I'll definitely be checking this out!


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